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I’ve spent more than two weeks nursing sick kids who came down with the flu. While running back and forth providing water, Kleenex, Ibuprofen etc. there were many times I wondered, “Why can’t they just all get sick all at once and get it over with?” And then, of course, like usual, they all started feeling better and then I got sick–like even-my-hair-and-fingernails-hurt sick. I’m so fortunate to be able to live with my parents, so I usually have at least another set of hands on the weekends and evenings when sickness strikes… but not this time, it got to them too. Three sick adults and three sick kids is not an ideal situation, but such is life. I had a lot of time to think over the week I was sick and the main thing I thought of was all the single parents who don’t have a back-up and are truly on their own when sickness strikes—and even couples who both get sick at the same time—so I thought I’d come up with a list of things that have helped me during this wave of illness that every single mom, and parents in general, should have during the cold and flu season. Since I’m on a very tight budget, as are most single parents, I adhere to these tips pretty stringently. One of the biggest things any single parent must do is plan ahead and be prepared, at least that’s what I’ve learned for myself. And if you’re not a single mom or you’re past the little kid stage, pay it forward and maybe spring for one of these things to send to some single moms you know. I know they’ll love you for it. So, here ya go!
1.) Grocery delivery:
When I asked the question, “How to get to the store when I can only stand long enough to pour some Cheerios in a bowl and then slide them across the floor with my feet and now, Cheerios…are all gone?” I was immediately and eternally grateful for the age we live in. The age of grocery delivery. Thank God I don’t have to pack up the kids in a wagon and trek miles to the nearest town for a loaf of bread and a block of ice. There are plenty of options out there for grocery delivery, but I like Wal-Mart Grocery delivery the best in a pinch because they usually offer windows of time that day or at least the next day. They do home-delivery for a delivery fee or curbside pick-up for free. And you can order diapers, tissues, ibuprofen, and other non-perishable necessities for illnesses. The only thing I’m not super jazzed about with Walmart, is their produce, but I get over that quick when I’ve got a fever so high I’m hallucinating while watching Curious George. Other great options if you’re stocking up and have time to wait for shipping my favorite healthy option is ThriveMarket: they offer competitive, low-prices and free shipping on orders above $49. Plus, I love their ThriveGives Program which donates memberships fees and products to families in need. Just because I’m a single mom, doesn’t mean I need to sacrifice healthy products for my family.
JustAMom tip: Stock up on chicken broth/bone broth! Life saver when illness strikes my fam.
2.) Essential oils and diffusers: Especially for upper respiratory illnesses these are a must for supporting your body’s natural defenses. There are tons of options out there for oils, sometimes the only thing you can afford is the stuff at the natural grocery store, but it’s for sure worth it to get higher quality oils from Young Living, DoTerra, or ThriveMarket. Again, with the diffusers, I saved and saved until I had enough for each room. Diffusing peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oil when coughs and colds hit really helps especially at night. I use GreenAir SpaVapor+ Instant Wellness 150ml Essential Oil Diffuser for Aromatherapy for the kids’ rooms because they like the changing colors. Plus peppermint essential oil is great for supporting the body with fever reduction.
3.) The best booger-sucker ever:
When my daughter was born she was surrounded by her brothers who had stayed home up until the time she was born when they needed to be in daycare while my husband was in home-hospice and I was playing nurse trying to keep both him and her alive, as well as myself. Everyone knows once kids go to school, they bring home everything! It’s absolutely true and unfortunately my baby came down with RSV when she was three months old landing her in the pediatric intensive care unit for more than a month. Since then she has always struggled when she gets colds and coughs. The little blue bulb wasn’t cutting it and every time she got a cold I’d have to bring her into urgent care and have them suck out her boogers with their high-tech booger sucker. Finally, a nurse, whom I’m forever indebted to, told me about the FridaBaby Nasal Aspirator with 20 Extra Hygiene Filters. The Frida Baby nasal aspirator was the best thing I’d spent my money on when colds hit. I give them to every one I know who’s having a baby now. It seems seriously gross to suck out your kid’s boogers, but believe me seeing the filter coupled with the desperation to give your baby relief, ESPECIALLY if you’re by yourself and can’t leave other kids sleeping alone to take the baby into the urgent care in the wee hours of the night, you get over the gross-ness real fast.
As a parent, it’s a built-in necessity to be one step-ahead of our kids; as a widowed or single parent it seems like we have to be three steps ahead or it all falls apart. Prevention is a HUGE priority of mine when it comes to illness in my family. If I can try my best to keep us all healthy then it can head-off illness–or at least minimize its effects when it does hit. Here are some things I use at home to be one, two or three steps ahead of illness:
1.) Air purifiers:
I scrimped and scraped for air purifiers for my kid’s rooms and the main room in our house. This was a priority for me because I live with my parents and my dad chooses to smoke in the garage. The smoke seeps into the house and I’m hyper-aware of secondhand smoke because my husband died of lung cancer at a young age and practically, well, my kids all have part of his genes too. While I can’t change my dad, I can at least try to minimize the effects of second-hand smoke (one of them being a lowered immune system and more prone to respiratory issues) by using air purifiers. We use Holmes large room air purifier.
For the large room and Holmes Small room air purifier for my room and the kids’ rooms. I saved and included these things into my budget and got on at a time as they can be pricey. On Amazon.com, you can easily replace the Holmes Filters which last us a pretty long time.
2.) Quality multivitamin and minerals:
It’s tempting to just grab the cheapest vitamins on the shelf, but for a single-parent who’s watching every penny, know that most vitamins in the market today are mainly made up of synthetic vitamins and minerals your body can’t use anyway, so in reality you’re flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet—literally. Again, I prioritize and carefully budget for quality vitamins for myself and my kids because it’s worth it and I can tell a huge difference. This multi-vitamin/mineral is the best I’ve used by far and while it’s pretty pricey, I do divvy it up between three kids and every other day. The flu we all just got over was the first real illness in almost a year, which is huge considering we were sick pretty much every month the first couple years after my husband’s death (stress obviously) and after the kids started school. I order from PureFormulas.com because it’s free shipping (enter this referral code and start saving today: RWXQPL).
3.) Sleep quality:
Sleep is a huge deal in my household. I will do almost anything in my power to maintain our sleep. I stick to a sleep schedule that works for all of us and I don’t enroll my kids (not that I could afford it anyway!) in tons of after-school activities that keep us out late. And remember stress= lowered immune system and that means stress on our kiddos too.
5.) Limit sugar intake and stress during the holidays:
The cold weather is notorious as a culprit for all the cold and flu viruses because we’re all stuck inside breathing each others’ germy air. The winter also includes the holidays which equals a large consumption of sugary treats, higher stress levels and lack of sleep. All of these things are contributors to lowering your immune system. I get it, your kids are in school and then BAM! Here comes winter break and you need to scramble to find childcare and it certainly doesn’t help when they or you become ill. Being a single-parent and figuring out unplanned for childcare and how to pay for it is a huge nightmare and stress. Try your best to lower your stress by not volunteering for every holiday event at school and declining some party invitations if your plate is just too full. Give yourself and the kids the gift of quality family time together at home instead—I get it, socializing with other adults is huge for single-parents, but just budget your time around sleep and stress reduction. It’s worth it, I promise.
There are tons of other things that can help, but in order to save you precious reading time that’s it for now!
Are you a single-mom or dad? Have a life-saving tip in the midst of illness? Share it with us below! Help each other help each other.
*Why does JustAMom use affiliate links? Well because I don’t think useful information should be kept a secret! I stand by the things I promote and use them myself, and, simply put I’m just a mom getting creative on how to make a sole income for a family of 4! Thank you! Xoxo, Nicole